Smoothness for footways

Current ‘smoothness’ classification in wiki seems to be applicable for motor vehicle roads only. I am drawing a map for local roller skaters community. Can i use tag ‘smoothness’ for foot ways with grades different from those in wiki or should i invent a new tag for this?
I mean smoothness ‘bad’ for vehicle, pedestrian and roller skater differs. Though, vehicles do not use footways and pedestrians usually do not care about smoothness, for small-wheeled transports smoothness is critical.
Anyway for the smoothness data to be reliable there should be a standard for tagging smoothness for footway. I think we need a wiki page for this.

You can use smoothness on all highway=*. Of course the perception of what is smooth and what not will always be a bit subjective.


Wheelchairs, rollators, strollers, roller skaters and scooters use footways.

For roller blades and skateboards, only excellent is documented to be ideal.

The others are a bit more difficult to sort into these categories, because while rollators may have as sturdy wheels as strollers (i.e. intermediate would be fine?), the people using them are not. Wheelchairs have big bicycle-like wheels, but no suspension at all, so I don’t know.

In the end, it is going to be very difficult to assign certain vehicle types as “still fine for smoothness X” because what is still fine/usable/ok is going to differ somewhat from person to person, it is very subjective.

Hence, it will yield a more objective result if one classified the smoothness according to the visual appearance of the footway or road. This is why I created this gallery of example photos per smoothness (in cooperation with many others, see the linked pages) some time ago, each sorted by type of surface (asphalt, paving stones, etc.). It is linked from the wiki page on smoothness.


You should definetly not use the smoothness tag other than defined. But I see your problem. As the smoothnes tag is defined more or less by the lower end of the usable surface quality

I felt the desire to tag whether a way is exeptional smooth.

However, for this the existing tagging should be extended. As smoothness is a subjective and therefore difficult topic, it might become hard to get any consensus.

That looks what i need. But as a rollerskater, I would not agree with this classification: asphalt at Castleton 07 marked intermediate looks near to impassable to me, when other asphalt marked as bad looks better.
Maybe i need a new tag, something like smoothness:roller ?
And I should find some official standard before I involve community members to work on smoothness tagging to refer on.

Well, first of all, rollerscaters are in the excellent category, which means anything below that will be inconvenient or problematic in one way or another.

And second, the different needs and “weaknesses” of different vehicles (roller skates = small tires, sports bikes = thin tires, rollators = fragile/weak people) makes different features that would classify a road as any particular smoothness (ruts, potholes, general roughness, …) differently hard on these vehicles. That is why I wrote that connecting the smoothness category with any particular mode of transportation yields less objective results than by classifying it by overall appearance with the help of reference photos.

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So, how can i propose a new tag? How should i name it? How do i create a wiki page for it?

Since as a skater, only smoothness=excellent (or if-need-be good) is what you want to go skating on, I don’t understand why this tag does not suffice for you.

The likeliness that a new subjective and very specific tag to-be-tagged on potentially every foot-, cycleway and road will be accepted is very very low.


If i skate on excellent roads only, here in my places, i would not skate at all. We gotta skate on the roads we have. With information on smoothness we can prefer one way to other to get to destination. It often happens to pass through bad places to get somewhere with better surface.
I guess new tags are not mandatory and will live only in places where people really need it.

If you want a key to describe how appropriate a road is for skating you may adapt a key like class:bicyle.
You are free to invent new tags, that do not conflict with existing ones. But e. g. class:bycicle is not without controversy and a tag for skating wouldn’t be either.

For (future) reference, if you wish to create a proposal, please follow this page: Proposal process - OpenStreetMap Wiki
The Wiki pages for proposals are usually named Proposed features/Title of the proposal.

I have come to conclusion, i should use new tag. Does “smoothness:roller” sounds good for native speaker?
I will use the new tag anyway despite any voting results. I just need to get something working asap. So should i start proposal now, or it would be better to quietly describe new tag in wiki and start proposal later, if and when the tag becomes useful?

In accordance with the inline_skates access key, I would suggest to use smoothness:inline_skates instead. But actually, as pointed out by @westnordost, I wouldn’t use anything but smoothness=*, because this one is at least a bit objective. Breaking it down to individual modes of transportation is moving it more and more into the subjective direction (which is what class:bicycle also does). As an avid cyclist, I also dislike the whole smoothness-tagging, because it’s car-centric, but if we ended up with smoothness:bicycle, smoothness:stroller, smoothness:whatever in the end, it would make the whole tag even more blurry. But that’s just my 2¢


“roller” on its own could also mean this, so that tag isn’t ideal.

If you want to put it in the wiki, you need to go the proposal-way. The wiki generally only describes approved or de-facto (in-use) tagging.

For the reasons already mentioned above, I don’t think that a new tag is a good idea here, and therefore a proposal for that new tag isn’t a good idea either. Many recent proposals have been ill thought out, have stopped and started, and have achieved little except to waste everyone’s time.

More generally I wouldn’t suggest that “everyone with a new idea for tagging” jumps straight into a wiki proposal. Add something to OSM that captures the sense of what you’re trying to add (even if just via a note tag or other descriptive tag). Survey and map lots of things locally that you think might need your new tag. When you do that, you may well encounter tags that other people have used for your concept, and you can use that tag.

This is something that’s happened to me a few times - one example when I had no idea what a horse stile was called.

While I sometimes wish this were true, the wiki contradicts it.

You can use any tags you like, but please document them here on the OpenStreetMap wiki, even if self-explanatory.


Thank you for your replies. I will use smoothness:inline_skates tag.
I see proposal would not succeed and would be just a waste of time. I will create instruction on tagging for our local community and get to work. Maybe i will come back later with proposal and wiki if and when we successfully tag our city.

What I understand from your words is, that you further differentiate smoothness=excellent.
I would rather suggest to use existing tags and derive the usability based on their combination. In your case smoothness in combination with surface.
Based on my real-life experience, in this level of detail real-world will change faster than you can update it in OSM. Eg. in my area in winter times gravel is added on the ways to avoid slipping on icy roads. In autumn and spring, farmers will add some dirt on their way between farmland and farm…